Grand failure of Swedish design

(this post is for Sunday, 11 September 2011)

In all its glorious goodness, Swedish design has one flaw. Luckily, this occurred a long, long time ago, that it’s now inconsequential. I’m referring to the warship, Vasa. The Vasa was designed to be a ‘master-plan warship’ and to defeat all-comers.

A year previously, all of Sweden’s warships were sunk in battle, and the Swedish king commissioned a warship, longer, wider, and higher than any before. The Vasa was to have TWO levels of cannons, unlike the current single level. Sadly, designers used the same tables and designs for the two levels as they used for single levels. Adding 32 cast iron cannons could only have disastrous consequences. The designers eventually figured this out, warned the king, but were told that building must continue regardless.

Building DID continue regardless, and the maiden voyage of the Vasa was recorded as a grand total of 40 minutes. Twenty of which were spent sinking following a few light gusts of wind that caused the Vasa to capsize and sink. Several salvage efforts were made between that date and it’s eventual emergence from the depths in the 1960’s. Earlier efforts focussed on looting, while the 1960’s effort finally recovered the Vasa in tens of thousands of pieces, each painstakingly cataloged and used to reconstruct the Vasa in all its glory. It was a magnificent vessel, if a little under-designed in some areas. It was massive and colourful compared to its contemporaries. Sadly, it didn’t have contemporaries for very long.

The Vasa now stands in the Vasa museum. – a proud testimony both the success and failure of Swedish design. The museum itself is quite wonderful, and gives visitors a unique insight into life aboard a Renaissance Period warship. It must have been quite dreadful – two lavatories for 400 men, of which one was dedicated to the admiral and captain. Again, a fairly poor design concept…

The museum itself is pretty good with guides about to help and answer questions. Just be careful what group you join. Clearly, we didn’t look like a bunch of decrepit Americans, incurring the wrath of the ‘museum security’. Up to then, we felt the free tour was excellent value for money.

The rest of the day was spent traipsing backwards and forwards between different locations of interest. Stockholm is a large sprawling city. Well, as much as a city can sprawl over 14 islands. Its places of interest are certainly not nearly as compact as Prague, and one is forced to travel a bit to get the best out of the city. Luckily, the transit system plays ball nicely, and sometimes allows you to win as well.

The night was ended at Morten Trotzig’s – a lovely bistro, decadent food, fantastic beer in Gamla Stan. We’d discovered Sound Pollution, a music store that would be a revelation in the morning.

     Aperture: ƒ/6.3 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Focal length: 17mm ISO: 640 Shutter speed: 5s
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